Privilege Blog

Small And Large Snow Stories, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:59am

It snowed in New York City last night.

And in many other cities across the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. But I have personal memories of New York snow storms, so they matter with a capital “M.” That’s how we work, we humans. I have never forgotten my business school statistics professor teachings; people trust their own anecdotal experience over the most reliable of data.

I remember, in 1980 or ’81, snow fell and plenty of it. I lived on 104th Street near Riverside Drive. In fact it must have been ’81 or ’82, if I was no longer in my first tiny place at 69th and Central Park West.

Okay, in 1981 perhaps, a friend of mine lived around the corner from me on West End Avenue. The two of us dressed up in warm clothes and boots, walked to Riverside Park, and tromped around. We made tracks.

Even though by that point I’d lived in London, dated a movie star, found myself a job with a theater company, and bought an apartment, I still felt like a child. For reasons I cannot fathom even today, those snow-stompings felt like the first act of my adulthood. Perhaps because I’d never seen snow except in protective spaces. Where?

  • Skiing in Sun Valley, Taos, and Alpine Meadows, with my family or a college boyfriend. I paid the boyfriend’s way, I should point out. An enormous component of privilege is its protection, for better or worse.
  • On the paths and stone roofs of Princeton. It didn’t snow that often in New Jersey, but more than the San Francisco Bay Area, certainly.
  • With some friends in a Swiss ski village. People wore fur-hooded parkas and spoke foreign languages. I did not, but my gang of male friends surrounded me and kept me safe.

To dress myself, then, leave through my own apartment building door, turn right, walk to the park with a friend, and stomp. The snow was clear and white. We threw some, but adults find frozen water down your neck – even of the fluffy variety – miserable. Unless you’re flirting. I suppose maybe later my friend and I ordered Chinese food delivery. That’s a grownup option.

I hope all of you in snow today enjoy the squeak of your boots, the hush. As Susan Champlin puts it, “I still can’t get over the thrill of snow—the prickly feeling on your face!” It’s both statistically possible and emotionally appealing that no two snowflakes are alike.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Images & Quotes

Mike Groll/AP via ABC News An institutional photo, one version of the experience.
NYReader photo of tree with hanging lights, here. A personal photo, a different experience altogether.
Zanosaurus, New York City at night.
Susan Champlin is here, and here.

37 Responses

    1. I looked him up on wikipedia and he has had a difficult time with relationships it seems. It’s a good thing that you only knew him briefly. BUT, what an actor!

  1. I love this, Lisa. I like that your snow-stomping felt like the first act of your adulthood, and for me, putting on snow boots in New York and cavalierly sloshing through gutter-puddles takes me right back to being five years old and doing the same thing with my rain boots and the gutter at our house in L.A.

  2. Almost two feet of snow here. I can’t open my back door – the drifts are very high. At least, unlike much of the state, I have power and heat. The snow is too deep for my small dogs to frolic. My driveway was clear, blocked again by the last round of plowing. Neighborhood children are sledding down the hill next door on a campus property. I think I enjoy snow more in a protected space – when I have nowhere I need to be and someone else is ultimately responsible for things like snow removal, heat and groceries.

  3. Beautiful post, it envokes such images as I sit here in sunny Sydney! Coming originally from Australia’s dryer and warmer regions, where drought is commonplace, my parallel would be ‘rain stories’.
    As always, thank you.

  4. Grew up with snow and love the silence and crunch sound so much. Fun post that led me to you 10 things about you post Lisa. Xoxo

  5. Love this. Growing up in Texas we never had snow. At twenty I moved to Connecticut for a white Christmas. unfortunately on Christmas Eve there was ZERO chance of snow. All the weatherforecasters apologized “Sorry, there will be no white Christams this year”. Went to dinner in Mass. and my host looked up over the turkey, out the window, knocked over his wine and exclaimed “it’s snowing!” Barely made it back to Connecticut, it snowed all night and the next day-Christmas Day-it was a winter wonderland outside. Still one of my favorite holiday memories ever even tho the boyfriend is long gone and I am back in Texas.

  6. Historic snow here in coastal Maine– about 32 inches thus far. So lovely not to have to go anywhere, an expanse of freedom.

  7. Snow storms are like relationships. I love how you have dated your storms and how they bring out a bit of play and stomp in each of us.

  8. It snowed in the Netherlands too, but very little, enough that as I look out the window I see the orange-tiles covered in white. The first time I saw snow I was 18, also in Switzerland. I went to ski / snowboard camp and to visit universities (where I would later study). I still felt like a child, in many ways. I hadn’t even kissed anyone by the time.

  9. I don´t like snow at all. We here in the north get an overdose of it every single year.
    Btw, it has snowed more or less for c. 3 weeks non-stop.

  10. Ah ha, you are a romantic afterall, my precious Lisa.
    I think I love this post more than any other you’ve done because of the whimsy, the brilliant memories, the sheer human-ness of it. Of course, there are no statistics to prove it, just warm, fuzzy feelings.

  11. My nostalgia for snow has been well-served by the move to Montréal, and the old saw, “It’s wonderful, if you’re dressed for it” is true. I have mitts so stuffed with down they could be boxing gloves, a fur, and a hat that ties under the chin. Snow is in my genes and I’m happy to have moved from a city with more slush to this truly cold, snowy one.

  12. ’81… same year we left NYC, miss it not one teensy bit. How interesting to be a subject for Larry Fink. You were destined to write a blog touching upon the subject of privilege. Would love to see the photo!

  13. Growing up in Montana, I’ve seen enough snow to last me forever. Heavy snow meant helping my father feed cattle, and hoping we didn’ find any that had frozen to death ( they put their heads to the ground, and their breath can freeze.) I never think of bad weather as romantic.

  14. I have a fantasy of being in NY C during a snow storm. Don’t know where that comes from. Surely I’d have to ask you what to wear. Don’t think cropped pants and flats will make it there. Seriously though, what would a visitor bring to snowy conditions from sunny SoCal?

  15. I remember the NYC storm. People were cross country skiing down major streets in Westchester. We couldn’t dig our cars out so my sister came and rescued us in my father’s big cadillac. A great snowstorm!

  16. Did you have Professor Miller? He turned me from someone who thought she couldn’t do math to (now)someone who makes her living from direct marketing data. He was my favorite B-school professor by far.

    1. No, it was Nathaniel Leff. And he was one of my favorite professors:). Nice to meet a fellow GSB alum here.

  17. Oh, you all, these comments are so beautiful! Thank you very much. Just what I needed to return on a Thursday morning.

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